Thousands of buildings belonging to the Spanish state stand empty, including not a few white elephants, both in Spain and abroad.
There are 14,100 empty or unfinished public buildings in Spain, not to mention thousands of plots of land, according to a new study by MBQ Group, an architectural and urban planning consultancy.
The Spanish state also owns 350 buildings outside of Spain that are either empty or unfinished.
During the boom even the smallest Spanish municipality wanted grandiose public buildings like sports centres, cultural centres, and museums. Many of them were vanity projects promoted by local politicians trying to impress voters, and reward their friends with juicy contracts, not to mention themselves with kickbacks. Almost all these projects were financed with debt.
Now that boom has turned to bust, municipalities and regional governments don’t have the money to complete or run many of these buildings, so they stand empty or unfinished.
A good example is the Centre for the Creation of Arts in Alcorcón (CREAA), a municipality of Madrid, which the previous (Socialist) Mayor dreamt would become the “Guggenheim of Alcorcón”.
According to the present Mayor, it has cost €150 to date, will cost another €40 million to finish, and would burn €10m a year to keep open. Alcorcón is now €600m in debt, half of it related to this White Elephant.